The Aerix Black Talon is a diminutive, but powerful racing drone that offers a low-cost way to get a feel for drone racing. We reviewed the first version last year, but the Black Talon 2.0 reduces the price and improves the video quality for a more seat-of-the-pants flying experience. The rest of the flying experience is the same, though: The drone is fast, maneuverable and fun to fly, though it still has frustratingly short battery life. Still, its ease of use and low price make it the best drone for aspiring racers.
The Black Talon 2.0 itself looks identical to the previous version, with a squat, angular design that includes rotor-blade protectors. The controller is also identical, except for the addition of a smartphone holder that fits onto the battery compartment cover. This space can accommodate a smartphone like the Nexus 5X that I used for testing, but not larger devices like the iPad mini.
Aerix Black Talon 2.0 Specs
Flight Time: 4 minutes
Camera: 720p/1280 x 720 pixels
Smartphone Controlled: Optional
FAA Registration: Not required
Rotors:4 (2 blades per, replaceable), 2.75-inch diameter
Size: 7 x 7 x 2 inches
Weight: 2.5 ounces
Video: Greatly improved
While both the original Talon and the Talon 2.0 can capture 720p video at a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, the Talon 2.0 has an additional feature, sending this video to your smartphone over the Wi-Fi connection. The original only showed a preview on the screen attached to the controller, while the new model replaces this with an app (Android and iOS) running on your smartphone.
Video quality is also much improved, with much better detail and cleaner, brighter colors. Still, I noted a distinctly jittery quality to the video when maneuvering, caused by the camera vibrating. I also noticed that the sun turned black when it was in view, a common problem with cheap video cameras when the brightness overwhelms the sensor. This drone's footage is nowhere close to the 4K video from drones such as the DJI Mavic Pro or the Phantom 4, but those models cost four times as much as the Talon 2.0.
Videos are recorded to the SD card that fits into the drone (it comes with an 8GB card already installed). But they can be easily downloaded to the smartphone with a click in the app, and uploaded from there to Facebook or other social media.
Video Goggles: FPV view
The Talon 2.0's smartphone support opens up another way to view the video: with an FPV headset. The optional $20 VR Goggles hold your smartphone (up to the iPhone 7 Plus in size), and the software splits the view into two, one for each eye. This isn't truly 3D (as there is only one camera on the drone), but it does give a very convincing feel of being right there inside the drone, helped by the improved video quality. Our only issue with this is the size of the headset; it completely covers the eyes, so you have to use the controller by touch. This takes some getting used to. The software is also compatible with any Google Cardboard headset.
Batteries: Same short life
The Talon 2.0 uses the same small, 520-mAH battery as the first Talon, and we found that this battery offers a rather short 4 to 5 minutes of flight time. Aerix hopes to get around this by the addition of an optional $25 charger and battery kit. This kit includes two spare batteries and a USB charger that can charge two batteries at the same time, taking about 25 minutes to charge. I'd say this is a must-have for any serious user, as the short battery life is a serious problem.
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Swapping batteries in the drone is easy, taking only about 30 seconds. Just turn the drone off, then press down the catch on the base of the battery cover and slide it out. Insert a new battery, turn the drone on, and you are back up and flying.
Verdict: A good drone made better
The poor quality of the video on the original Black Talon was one of our main complaints about that otherwise nifty drone, and version 2.0 has done a lot to address the issue. Unfortunately, we still managed to get only about 4 minutes of flight time out of the small battery inside the Black Talon 2.0. Although the optional battery and charger kit go some way toward addressing this, the short battery life is still a problem. Still, the Aerix Black Talon 2.0 is good for those who want to get into drone racing without making a huge investment.